NSW to pilot digital identity verification for government services

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Image: Asha Barbaschow/ZDNet

Residents of the Australian state of New South Wales may soon be able to verify their identity online from anywhere for government services in an upcoming pilot.

“Photo verification will enable millions of customers to conduct government transactions anywhere, anytime or authenticate using a photo verification login,” said Damon Rees, CEO of Service NSW.

“This will provide customers with greater accessibility to government services, particularly customers with disabilities, time-poor customers and those in rural or regional areas, who are unable or find it difficult to travel to NSW service centres.

The upcoming identity verification service comes months after NSW asked providers to provide two new digital identity systems: one to provide proof of digital identity and one for identity sharing digital.

The technology, which is expected to be integrated into the Service NSW app, will work by matching a photo a user takes of themselves with a reference photo, such as a driving licence. The photo verification software then reads the geometry of the user’s face to decide if the verification is successful. Once the images are successfully matched, the selfie and all verification data would then be “instantly and securely destroyed”.

Rees confirmed that Service NSW will not retain or permanently store any facial images of users who choose to use the service. Instead, only the government agency that originally collected a user’s personal information when issuing identity documents will hold the data, he said.

The upcoming identity verification pilot service will also be available on an opt-in basis and users will be required to provide ongoing consent, meaning they can opt out at any time.

The announcement follows the state government’s rollout of a service allowing drivers to register their vehicles digitally. According to the Minister of Customer Service and Digital Government, Victor Dominello, digital vehicle registration was developed because approximately 16% of registrations in the state were not renewed in time due to damaged and misplaced documents. .

Going digital has been high on the state agenda, with the New South Wales government announcing in November that it had started work on a new whole-of-government approach to digital identity. This new direction aims to give customers the ability to use digital credentials for various licenses, certifications, qualifications, and eligibility documents.

“The new digital services will be faster, more convenient and less expensive to use than paper or physical alternatives and will be less prone to tampering, misplacement or theft than physical documents,” Dominello said at the time. .

Updated at 10:00 AEST, April 7, 2022: Updated story to reflect that the pilot has not started at the time of writing.

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